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Scotland becomes first country in the world to make sanitary products free; can India follow suit?

While there are small-scale initiatives that make available sanitary pads at nominal rates, 70 per cent Indian women do not have access to sanitary napkins, as per a Nielsen survey conducted in October 2010

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: November 27, 2020 7:23:58 am
period products, period poverty, scotland becomes first country free sanitary products, sanitary products free in scotland, act, monica lennon,, indianexpress, what do indian sanitary companies say, indian sanitary products, sustainable period products,Scotland's new act has been hailed as a historic one; can India replicate it? (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Members of the Scottish Parliament unanimously passed The Period Products (Free Provision)(Scotland) Act on Tuesday which makes it legally mandatory for all public institutions to provide period products, including tampons and pads to all those who need them.

According to Labour member Monica Lennon, who has been spearheading the grassroots campaign for the past four years and introduced the Bill in April 2019, the goal is to eliminate “period poverty”.

The Scotsman quoted Lennon as saying before the vote that “the legislation is increasingly necessary because of the negative impact the pandemic has had on access and said the next steps will be to end the stigma surrounding periods and to make sure women’s health stays on the political agenda”.

Lennon further told the Parliament in a video message that it marked “a proud day for Scotland and a signal to the world that free universal access to period products can be achieved.”

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, hailed the move and said she was proud to vote for the historic legislation, which is an “important policy for women and girls”.

The move drew various reactions from people across social media.

Explained: The legislation that makes Scotland the first country to make sanitary products free

Can the same be replicated in India?

While there are small-scale initiatives that make available sanitary pads at nominal rates, 70 per cent Indian women do not have access to sanitary napkins, as per a Nielsen survey conducted in October 2010. The BBC also reported that as few as 15 per cent of girls had access to sanitary pads during the nation-wide lockdown.

“The Hon’ble Prime Minister also mentioned how more than five crore sanitary napkins have already been provided to women in a short period of time through Jan Aushadhi Kendras,” mentioned Vikas Bagaria, founder, Pee Safe.


Speaking about the move by the Scottish government, Hemender Hoon, managing director and co-founder, Noraa told, “It’s a great step by the Scottish government towards tackling period poverty. I feel while the Indian government has been very active in eradicating period poverty at the rural level, the initiatives should be spread over to the urban sector too. It can begin by initially targeting schools and colleges irrespective of the fact if they are private or government-owned and slowly making basic period products freely available for anyone who needs them.”

Bagaria added that there is a “need to widen the scope of coverage”. “Governmental support in the form of a bill can fuel these efforts and become the agent for change to remove period poverty,” he said.

However, Priyanka Nagpal Jain, founder, Hygiene and You and SochGreen Reusable Period Products, remarked how the move may prove counter-productive if reusable sanitary products are not advocated for. “I would suggest, if a law like this is to be passed (in India), it should mostly include reusable products like menstrual cups and cloth pads. Secondly, it is not clear if the products will be available for free to all or only those who can not afford it. Ideally, it should be free only for those who cannot afford as – it will highly reduce the budget, making it a more feasible project. And when products are available for free, people do not value them. They will end up taking a lot more than what they need leading to a lot of wastage. A better option would be to make reusable period products easily available at a highly subsidised/nominal cost for those who can’t afford them,” she mentioned.

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📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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First published on: 25-11-2020 at 02:10:06 pm

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